Volunteer Roles at KHS

On the back of the spectacle and feeling of the 2021 Kirrawee High School Production, ‘On With the Show’, we want to take the opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for our staff team who go above and beyond in volunteer roles at our school.

Public schools run on volunteer roles. Effectively, anything co-curricular is fuelled by volunteer teachers. However, at Kirrawee High School, a unique culture exists where the vast majority of teachers who volunteer for extra responsibilities aren’t doing it for another dot point on their CV. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, most of our volunteer roles are staffed by teachers who simply want to contribute to the whole school community, and who want to enhance the curriculum by volunteering for the co-curricular. These teachers see the value in developing character traits in our students in line with our Signature Strengths. They want to see Kirrawee High School students get the absolute most out of their precious six years of high school, and they are willing to go that little bit further in terms of student wellbeing.

There is absolutely no obligation for staff to take on these responsibilities. For many of these volunteer roles, their pay is the same. They are driven by the inexpressible feeling of leading, coordinating, and contributing towards programs and roles that make a difference in the lives of our students by helping them flourish in their high school journeys.

Only Year Advisers receive extra remuneration for their volunteer role (equating to just $41.50 per week to directly oversee the wellbeing of 200 students in their year cohort), while some other roles have small time allowances (never enough time to properly do the role, but a nominal amount to assist). Below is a list of some of the volunteer roles that generations of Kirrawee High School staff have committed themselves to:

  • Year Advisers (2 per year cohort, 12 in total)
  • Music program (Jazz Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, Kaleidoscope, etc)
  • Knock out sport coaches (21 teacher volunteers coaching 46 representative teams)
  • Student Representative Council (SRC) Coordinator
  • Social Justice Committee (SJC) Coordinators
  • Sustainability and Environmental (SEC) Council Coordinators
  • Sport Organiser
  • White Ribbon Ambassadors Team Coordinators
  • Production (5 teacher volunteers leading a team of 245 students and staff)
  • First Nations (ATSI) Coordinator (e.g. Yarning Circle)
  • Debating, Public Speaking and Mock Trial
  • Dance program Coordinators
  • Peer Support Coordinator
  • Events & Media Team Coordinators
  • Camps education volunteer staff (Year 7, Year 10, Year 12)
  • Charity Fundraising Coordinators (Relay for Life, World’s Greatest Shave, Red Shield Appeal, Clean Up Australia Day, etc.)
  • Overseas Excursions volunteer staff (France, Reunion, Japan, New York, Cambodia)
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award Coordinators
  • School Council Delegates
  • Anti-Racism Contact Officer
  • Hour of Power volunteer staff
  • Teachers that run holiday study sessions
  • Ski Trip volunteer staff

The reality is that these programs cannot run without volunteer teaching staff. At Kirrawee High School, we are truly blessed that these programs not only run, but that they are delivered at such a high standard, with care and dedication (and have done so for decades – the most prominent recent example would have to be the KHS production, where to say it is delivered at an “industry standard” would be a massive understatement).

So why has the article been written?

Firstly, to express our gratitude. These are extra responsibilities and extra stress, at a big school with a big reputation, and these staff volunteers deserved to be thanked and acknowledged for their efforts. They are huge roles and we would hate for them to be thankless roles.

Lately, there has been an increase in negative and abusive emails and phone calls to staff in volunteer roles. In particular, our Year Advisers and Sport Coaches have copped more than most and often without a hint of the benefit of the doubt. By all means, parents/carers are always welcome and are encouraged to contact the school and raise issues of concern or make staff aware of a particular issue. However, this must always be done respectfully and constructively, always looking to affirm the crucial educational partnership between home and school.

Specifically, sport coaches are instructed to select the best possible knock out teams to represent the school, often all across NSW, in line with the Signature Strengths of Kirrawee High School and as they see fit. They are the coach and their decisions are final and supported by the school. They are not under any compulsion to give equal game time, as it is representative team. Phone calls and emails that question the selections and matchday decisions of coaches, especially phone calls and emails that subjectively and nastily compare students, do more harm than good.

Year Advisers who, for $41.50/week, utilize any spare moment at break times or otherwise for the sake of the wellbeing of the 200 or so students in their year group, have been instructed to report rude and abusive emails and phone calls to their supervisors for follow up. Often, such phone calls and emails are raising issues that have not been previously reported under the presumption that Year Advisers are therefore negligent in their duties for not having already acted upon these issues. This is grossly unfair and counterproductive. When contacting a Year Adviser, you are contacting a volunteer teacher who takes your child’s wellbeing seriously, with expertise and care. You are contacting someone who is on your team, someone who will share your concerns and act accordingly.

In conclusion, we write this article to ask for the support of parents/carers in looking after our staff and especially staff in volunteer roles. They genuinely do it for the love of their school and for the care of your children. Please take the opportunity to thank the staff that teach your child, look after your child, coordinate opportunities for your child and, if you have concerns, please communicate with our staff respectfully, constructively and in good faith.